Serena and Venus Williams may have taken the game of tennis by storm over the years, but the journey has been no easy feat.
During an interview on Sirius XM’s “Shade 45,” Serena Williams opened up about the “hostile environment” she and her sister encountered while playing the sport.
“It’s just something I had to grow used to, which shouldn’t be normal,” said Serena. “It had to be normal for me to realize people weren’t gonna root for me in the beginning, because I was different and I looked different.”
It was no different for her sister Venus Williams. She recalls the difference in the crowd’s reaction when her older sister would score versus her white counterparts.
“I remember when my sister was playing, I could tell when she would win points and when she would lose,” continued Serena. “The crowd would be really loud if she lost a point, and then there would be almost silence if she won the game or the point.”
Serena had the exact same experience and had to convince the world of her skills.
“The same applied to me. I had to make people realize that it’s okay to be Black and to play tennis. And it’s okay to be good at it and to be better, said Serena”
Serena thanks their parents for encouraging them throughout it all.
“Thankfully, my parents were so awesome and so pro-Black,” shared Serena. “They really taught us from a young age that we’re gonna face different things that other people aren’t gonna face. And we were okay with that because we knew that we were prepared for that. We were prepared for anything that came our way. And we continue to be prepared for that.”
For Serena, she learned to let her game do the talking.
“I had to force people to see me because of my game,” she continued. “And let my game do the speaking. And I had to be comfortable with that.”
That game continues to pay off– Serena Williams holds 23 Grand Slam titles, the most Grand Slam titles of any player in the Open Era.
For More On Serena Williams: